Our MPs need training, Trevor Manuel tells Zondo commission

2019-02-28 17:10
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. (Screengrab)

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. (Screengrab)

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WATCH: Trevor Manuel at state capture inquiry

2019-02-28 10:10

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel is set to testify before the Zondo commission into state capture. Watch WATCH

ANC veteran and former finance minister Trevor Manuel has expressed frustration at the governing party's failure to use its own stalwarts and former leaders to better service the country.

Manuel, who testified earlier at the state capture commission of inquiry, said there were many former leaders, including two former presidents, who were never consulted about how to successfully run South Africa over the past decade.

Commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, invited Manuel to testify after he claimed that the ANC's head of elections and former minister Fikile Mbalula wept at a national executive committee (NEC) meeting in 2011 after members of the Gupta family told him he would become a minister.

The Guptas, who are at the centre of state capture allegations, have been accused of using their undue influence over former president Jacob Zuma to loot the country and its state-owned enterprises.

They are also accused of controlling some of Zuma's decisions, including the appointment of members of his executive.

While Manuel said Mbalula was the first ANC leader to admit the role of the Gupta family in the ANC, he sharply raised some of the failings of the governing party since leaving office.

He said more of those who had been through the ranks should be called to assist the ANC and its government.

"We can't be enemies. We can't utilise our skills elsewhere. We are South Africans. We've pledged allegiance to the Constitution and it wasn't for purposes of getting jobs in Parliament and as a minister," said Manuel.

"It has to continue being a pledge to the Constitution," he added, saying this could have assisted in arresting the decline the country has experienced over the years.

While the former leader lamented things that went wrong in the country over the years, he emphasised a need to better equip those selected to serve in the National Assembly.

Time to deal with things differently

"We can't live according to the laws of the jungle. We must empower our public representatives to act accordingly," he said.

Manuel suggested South Africa needed a nationwide discourse on how to deal with some of its stubborn challenges.

"We can't just leave it to some officials to write speeches. We need to equip them to deal with issues differently," he said.

The former minister added that he believed that if members of Parliament were taught a few things, they would approach their roles differently.

"If we taught them, especially in portfolio committees, like public enterprises or finance, what a balance sheet is, what it looks like, what the numbers there represent… If we put out a call or went to accountants, Abasa (the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in SA) or Saica (the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) and said can you put the MPs through a course, you will get different lines of questioning," he remarked.

He said this would help MPs to interrogate delegations and executives from the different enterprises accordingly.

"These executives can't just come there with some pretence in Parliament because they can call people comrade and get away with stuff," he said.

Read more on:    trevor manuel  |  state capture inquiry

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